Object-Oriented Design Choices  book cover
1st Edition

Object-Oriented Design Choices

ISBN 9780367820183
Published January 19, 2021 by Chapman and Hall/CRC
348 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Do modern programming languages, IDEs, and libraries make coding easy? Maybe, but coding is not design. Large-scale or expensive apps clearly require evaluation of design choices. Still, software design directly impacts code reuse and longevity even for small-scale apps with limited overhead. This text evaluates and contrasts common object-oriented designs.

A given problem may have many solutions. A developer may employ different design techniques – composition, inheritance, dependency injection, delegation, etc. – to solve a particular problem. A skilled developer can determine the costs and benefits of different design responses, even amid competing concerns. A responsible developer documents design choices as a contract with the client, delineating external and internal responsibilities. To promote effective software design, this book examines contractual, object-oriented designs for immediate and sustained use as well as code reuse. The intent of identifying design variants is to recognize and manage conflicting goals such as short versus long-term utility, stability versus flexibility, and storage versus computation. Many examples are given to evaluate and contrast different solutions and to compare C# and C++ effects. No one has a crystal ball; however, deliberate design promotes software longevity. With the prominence of legacy OO code, a clear understanding of different object-oriented designs is essential.

Design questions abound. Is code reuse better with inheritance or composition? Should composition rely on complete encapsulation? Design choices impact flexibility, efficiency, stability, longevity, and reuse, yet compilers do not enforce design and syntax does not necessarily illustrate design. Through deliberate design, or redesign when refactoring, developers construct sustainable, efficient code.

Table of Contents


Detailed Book Outline

Section I:  Stable Type Desig

Contractual Design and the Class Construct


Explicit Design and Constraints

Class (Type) Functionality


Accessors and Mutators

Utility and Public Methods


Design as a Contract

Error Handling

Published Assumptions


Programming by Contract Example

Contractual Expectations

OO Design Principle


Design Exercises

Ownership – Abstracted but Tracked

The Abstraction of Memory 

Heap Memory

Ownership of Heap Objects

Array Allocation

Design Intervention

Persistent Data

Class Design  

Memory Reclamation

C++ Explicit Deallocation

Garbage Collection

Reference Counting

Design: Storage vs Computation 

OO Design Principle


Design Exercise


Data Integrity

Data Corruption


Shallow versus Deep Copying

C++ Copying of Internal Heap Memory

Unseen Aliasing

C# Cloning to Avoid Aliasing

Move semantics 

Handle: C++ Smart Pointers





OO Design Principle


Design Exercises


Section II: Strategic Type Coupling


Object-oriented Relationships

Containment (Holds-A)

Composition (Has-A)



Postponed instantiation

Echoing an Interface

Interfaces for Design Consistency

Wrappers and Delegates

Dependency Injection

Constructor Injection

Property (Setter) Injection

Method Injection

Dependency Injection Costs and Benefits

OO Design Principle


Design Exercises



Automate Type Checking 




Subtype polymorphism

Function inlining

Costs and Benefits of Polymorphism 

Dynamic Binding 

whoami() type identification

Keywords for dynamic binding

 Heterogeneous Collections

Virtual Function table 

Abstract Classes

Inheritance designs

OO Design Principle


Design Exercises

Inheritance vs Composition  

Constrained Inheritance

When Only Composition is Viable

When Inheritance Leaks Memory:  C++ destructors

Inconsistent Access: 

C++ accessibility and binding

Code Reuse

Class Design: Has-a or Is-a?

Inheritance with and without Composition

5Software Maintainability

OO Design Principle


Design Exercises


Section III:  Effective Type Reuse

Design Longevity

Software Evolution

Disassembler Example

Virtual Function Table

Type Extraction

Problematic Type Extension

Multiple Inheritance and its Simulation

Design difficulties

Single inheritance with composition

Simulation without inheritance

Class Hierarchies Cross-Products

OO Design Principle


Design Exercises

Operator Overloading

Operators represent functions

Overloading Addition in C++

Client Expectations

Operator Overloading in C#

Operators Overloaded only in C++

Indexing support

I/O via the stream operators

Type conversion

Transparent access

OO Design Principle


Design Exercise


Appendix A:   The Pointer Construct

Pointer definition

Dereferencing pointers

Inappropriate use of pointers

Transient versus persistent memory


The this pointer



Appendix B:   Design Examples

Contractual Design

Ownership:  C++ class memory management




Appendix C:   Comparative Design Examples

Composition versus Inheritance

Design longevity

Operator overloading



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Adair Dingle, PhD, is a professor of computer science at Seattle University, Washington, USA whose previous text, Software Essentials: Design and Construction, received the 2015 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award. Teaching and research interests focus on algorithms and software design including efficient memory management, patterns, refactoring and tools for software development and education.


"The introduction of object-oriented programming was a pivotal moment in software engineering, leading to a new way of creating systems by modelling their constituents independently and linking them through shared interfaces. Object orientation allows for the creation of more complex systems, better focus on a small subset of components at any given time, and a greater level of component independence; it even facilitates the creation of software product lines. Designing a system using object orientation requires the mastery of several interdependent concepts, such as abstraction, inheritance, composition, and polymorphism. Dingle (Seattle Univ.) provides a cohesive framework for learning object-oriented design from a practical point of view. Concepts are introduced hierarchically, starting from the idea of encapsulation and design as a contract and drilling down to specifics such as virtual function tables and abstract classes. This approach results in an incremental experience of learning object-oriented design that is rarely found in computer science courses, but that is essential for software engineers who wish to harness the power of object-oriented programming languages in practice. Although no book can fully replace hands-on bench experience, this compact guide can ensure that one's practical efforts will be optimally targeted.

--L. Benedicenti, University of New Brunswick

Review in April 2022 Issue of CHOICE